Saturday, 28 February 2009


Good local smoked back bacon, pork and sage sausages -just crispy, local flat mushrooms - huge and juicy, big softish tomatoes done so they're just a bit blackened on one face, fried bread, yesterday's leftover saute potatoes with onion and sage, beans (Heinz), and poached eggs done just as Laurence taught us, in the big saucepan. Eggs, note. Not egg. Good and runny, with a grind of salt on. Toast done in the Aga, and soft white bread to stick the odd bit of bacon into and squirt on the ketchup and fold it up for a bacon butty chaser.
Tell me you're not salivating!


They were right, the birds. Of course they were. Perfect things! The weekend had the most marvellous spring weather. How do they know? Someone suggested to me it's to do with the changing hours of daylight. Perhaps. I expect there are thousands of signs we miss. And, of course, the busier we are, the more we miss. It is a constant challenge to be here. To be here.

Perhaps it's age. To me, busier seems at once an old lure and a new curiosity. My eyes seem to get sharper, if anything, at present. More able to see that wren, that robin, that hedge sparrow singing his heart out.

Can't miss the heron. He comes down imperiously, bold as brass fishing for frogs and newts that he can find a-plenty in our paddock. It's nice and wet for him, with the lowest of the ancient ridge and furrows little less than a stream. That's where I am thinking of replanting two willow trees that (now foolishly I think) I put in the orchard. You do find newts there, in those damp hidey holes. Fine little orange coloured tummies they have. Like little trays of jewels. To a heron they must look like a selection box.

Herons have a special place in my imaginative life. When I was a kid, and we were hard up, we used to holiday at places like Pakefield, near Lowestoft, and California (we'd pretend it was the real California) near Great Yarmouth. Norfolk people call the heron "Old Awk". There's a lot of superstition about them. My Dad, (who was good at inventing things for us kids to do to leave him and Mum free to do things like sit and eat boiled sweets) used to offer a small prize to the person who could first spot Old Awk in the reedbeds as the train passed through places like Cantley, Loddon and Brundall. We'd peer through the diesel-yellowed windows for what seemed like hours on end, straining innocently for a rare glimpse of heron, whilst behind us was the sound of fruit sweets being gently but definitely enjoyed. Now, Old Awk comes direct to my door.

The change in the season, and a few slack work days have seen me out doing stuff like clearing away all the fallen branches from the fruit trees Ged and I lopped, and making a massive bonfire. Somewhere my Health and Safety manual got lost. Dictums like "never throw petrol on a fire that's already lit" escape me. Equally sensible thoughts like "don't reach into the fire to shuffle around those burning branches" seem also to desert me. Consequently, my hand resembles a tray of sausages that has been left in the Aga far too long. And there are plenty of nicks from the lopping saw for good measure. These simple, and moderate items of self harm are not to be regretted. And I added to my injury count when Matt came yesterday to help me fell ash trees in the wood, plant acorns in the meadow, and muck about getting the range rover stuck in mud. Fun stuff, and topped off by eating Toad and sitting out drinking Rioja and smoking cigars under a crescent moon and Venus shining.

Oh, and I appear also, from an unknown cause, to have injured my foot. On my right foot I can go up and down onto my toes. On my left foot, flat on the floor is my only option. So, in one sense there is no spring in my step. But in a host of others, there is.

Friday, 20 February 2009


I haven't looked at the long range weather forecast. But I probably don't need to. The birdsong here has risen in volume and complexity in a very marked way. Spring-like weather must be coming. I hear it in the first birdsong of the day (not yet fully a chorus) and in the immense range of instructions the jackdaws are issuing from the old black poplar. Something's up. Not an alarm. Something else.

Pao / Dreamon

It gives me such pleasure to think of you both reading this, in different parts of France. My international audience!


It is gratifying to think that these in the near future will merge. Some years ago, I had a debate where I predicted this and was told it would never work. Memo to Chris: raise a glass of Lambrusco to me at Mrs. Miggin's.


The murder victim rots. The murderer rots. The judge rots.


I have a conversation about that hard edged economic concept. It plays a surprisingly large part in my thinking about being a coach. This person in front of me is, I believe, already applying the rules of marginal utility. They are already choosing the best option given their awareness. "Better than...." options stop being an issue, therefore. What becomes my business is the expansion of awareness. Simple. My job is the curiosity to see things in ways you haven't yet thought of. The test of a coach, therefore, ought to be originality and width of thought, not orthodoxy and qualifications. In fact, it probably means that the most effective coaching will come from the unqualified. This is a lesson that procurement departments could do with learning. But then, I suppose it is in their interests to commodotize. It is a position of power in negotiation. As is mine.

That said, I am struggling to break my own patterns of awareness in dealing with killing a deer. It was 0615. Still dark in the lane. Suddenly, a blur of deer-body running in front of the car. A quiet bump, not more. A fascinating and sickening soft bump again as the wheels went over the poor thing. Since, guilty and sad feelings, piling up like storm clouds. Complex weather fronts of meanings and analogies, all dark. Thoughts arise. They go. In two years time I probably won't even remember. But would I say that had it been a child? That thought lingers. It felt like a child, going down before the car, and under the wheels. Roughly the same bulk. The same terminal resistance, I imagine. It is a central pillar of my spirit life that thoughts do come and go, and that watching them is the place of quiet contentment. That ethic is being tested hard, as the sadness of having killed something so personally symbolic of good and freedom gets processed, dealt with.

Sunday, 15 February 2009


Sometimes, and today is one of those times, I feel so out of kilter with the zeitgeist that I feel as though I have lost myself. All the indicators of a successful self seem to be so at odds with what being in society now indicates that it makes me question my own efforts and history. History: his story. His story sounds odd and out of sorts. Heroics? Out of place.
What to stay true to?
Days like this the answer to that question seems to come in anything but direction and progress.
Even preference deserts me.
Stillness, perhaps.
I find my answers more and more in the ditches and hedgerows, less and less in headlines, heroism and progress.
The ditches. Where the preyed on live. The dullest of dull places. Not the mountains, the peaks and glories, but the flat dull lands. Places not fit for heroes to live in. Here, cows stand still and chew. Rabbits hide. Snowdrops live briefly up to their name. Rooks do what rooks do - fly theft sorties, shoplifting edibles, then caw pointlessly, and cover the bare covert with white shit. The barn owl hunts silently across the ridges and furrows, seeing little, yet hearing from a kilometer away the tiniest sound of prey. Deer feed, reproduce, excrete, feed. And die. A myriad of species become life from their death. When feeling most apart, I feel most a part of this. A dweller in the flatlands. As pointless and transient as that snowman we made, after the rush of sledging.

Thursday, 12 February 2009


  • The deer that shot out from the covert in Long Lane, looked curiously at me, then shot back again
  • The barn owl, hunting earlier, the colder it gets
  • The snow revealing the lines of molehills in the paddock - their direction and symmetry
  • Skiddaw and Blencathra written in white against a blue sky
  • Cumberland sausages eaten in Cumberland
  • Interesting change management challenges with Rod and Cyril
  • A reminder of campari and orange juice
  • My potion for B worked a treat
  • Llama Karma on the A66
  • A singing V8
  • Apple logs on the fire, cut from my own orchard

Tuesday, 10 February 2009


Become nothing.

Saturday, 7 February 2009


Something I notice this morning is how far south the sunrise has gone. It changes the quality of its winter light and this morning showers the copper beech, my east marker, with truly golden light.


It is good, occasionally, to be told of your own impact. A tested friend did just that. By tested, I mean he has stood by me in the face of dissent. Fine man. The impact he described was of encouraging him to stop and look. I like it. It's all very well to be going forwards. Society pushes us on that way. But when the forwards motion is unaware of what now is, it can get dangerous. So, good to know there are moments to stop and be here, to look, even in the busiest of lives. And very nice indeed to be told that I have been a force for that good.


It is one thing to say rash things like "live unwisely", another to do so. Still, my most beloved partner in crime always urges me on to do so, and I thank him for the many hilarious and spirit freeing adventures that this ethic has produced. The latest: a night time Peak District jaunt, that had taken us across snow clad moorland to the Anvil Stones and then, beautifully into a pine forest so deep in silent snow that the silence hurt your ears. And at the end of it, we find ourselves on a track where we had left the range rover, facing the continuation of the track, an unlocked gate and thousands of acres of snow drifted land. It was too much for us to bear without doing the unwise thing of releasing the gate and piling the range rover into its sternest test yet. My mind is so filled with the vivid and hand-sweating tension of that foolhardy trip that I can scarcely spill it out. As ever, every new disaster was met with nothing but laughter. Again, how privileged I feel to have a friend who embraces abandon so readily and frees the maniac in me. To say we got stuck doesn't cover it. The range rover was bucking like a wild animal trying to free itself from enveloping snow drifts, whilst Ged and I rehearsed phone calls to the AA, helpless with giggling. No AA van in the country could have gone where we went. Indeed, even we thought "we can't go there...", then did. That we, and the vehicle emerged unscathed is a miracle born of the fine engineers who conceived and realised it, little knowing that two idiots who are both old enough to know better would test it by living once again, so unwisely.

Thursday, 5 February 2009


Live unwisely.


I have sometimes lunched like a Lord, but rarely get to lunch with a Lord, which made yesterday special. Then, to be invited to his wonderful house with its very uneven floors and dating back to 1683, was special indeed. We sat and talked in the tranquil drawing room, with its huge fireplace and views out across the snowy grounds. I'm not a particular fan of aristocracy. But I like nobility when I see it. And I see it in my noble friend. It is the nobility of the spirit that eschews its own dark places, and lives in the light of coming forward to others, open hearted and fundamentally well wishing. That does not deny the ability to win people over to his ambitions. This my friend has. And he is subtle, which I also take as a sign of his nobility. He has become accustomed to power and knows how to use it. And, indeed, as our conversation unravelled, it is difficult to think of him without it. I drove home reflecting on (dare I?) his peerless company.

At home I thought of Sue, and my lovely friend B, both of whom are ill. And George, a champion now laid low with illness too. Magically I did the following. Take from the cupboard three bottles. One is an old bottle that was filled with elderflower champagne made from the elders at the edge of the orchard. Another is an age old bottle that contained Balsamico from the old castello outside Arezzo where George, only three summers ago but then, how strange to think, still a boy, ran with Yas through the pine clad hills together with the dalmation from the castello. A third is a bottle that contained wine from the Lebanon, a small miracle of the survival of beauty in conflict. Cleansing these three bottles I pour into each as much of my health giving wishes as would fit and stopper them quick so as not to lose any of this noble (that word again) substance. Stop. Rewind. That pouring was a slow pouring of a very precious substance, made with qi, made mindfully, made with prana, made wishing for the kindest connection of mind and body. A slow pouring it was, made very full of thought. Their assignment to their recipients is enough, though I mentally send them. And off they go, to do their unstoppable, inexhaustible thing.

It is tiring, all that loving.

I go to bed reading HE Bates, and I dream of the Larkins, revelling in enough, and of magical potions, and of noblesse oblige.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009


It changed our interactions so that people recognise more the basics of survival in others. E.g. Clearing the old dear's path. The van driver who pulls aside in the lane and for whom I then have concerns about him being able to get back onto it; our waves mean very slightly more than thanks, mate. Saying are you ok to someone slipping. Just two or three sentences more to my neighbour walking his dog. More exchange with Pete, our fantastic postman. Just that little bit more concern.
Which is why its going leaves me missing it. That, and the fun of getting the Range Rover into low transfer and messing about on and off road around the lanes.
Yesterday, the snow was all beauty - Nature the signwriter's drop-shadow on branches, emphasizing her creation. Today, in a dull purplish dawn, it looks like it regrets its own diappearance.

Monday, 2 February 2009


When you go fishing you use a surgeon's knot. And so the fly stays on the line. You've got to be nimble to tie one. I struggle. But then, I'm not a surgeon. If I were, I just might gain that admirable dexterity. Tying knots might be life or death then.
A perfect knot is a thing of beauty. A perfect conversation with a bight and bitter end. Just occasionally I've see one tied. A Turk's Head. A perfect bowline. A timely hitch. Once, in the Celtic sea, a full lash which held a mainsheet. Tying unlike things perfectly together. And today I saw one. A surgeon's knot it was, beautifully done.

Sunday, 1 February 2009


.CON Nigerian Bank transfer offers. Replica Rolexes.
.COMIC E-zine
.COW Views in black and white, no bull.
.COE.UK Find out about the Olympics
.ORG Pure spleen


One of my most treasured friends has a penchant for BEING Noel. This shows in how well written is his emailed comment on this blog:

A most curious blog! I did like the 3G one..your Wolseley story put me in
mind of those lovely days when at university, I would take the train to London
on a crisp January day, when the sun is glinting through, touching your face,
and yet there is still a shiver, a chill and thrill in the spine. You arrive at
about 10ish, take the tube to Piccadilly, and emerge into the busy road, with a lilt in your stride. Then, you turn the corner into St. James’s Square, where the whiteness and the crispness merge, your senses eagerly awaiting the experience ahead..such anticipation as you bound up the steps of your club, and inhale the smell, the head for the smoking room, pluck a paper from the rack, ring the bell for coffee..and life IS GOOD. Youth, eh?! Wasted on the young.

I have often thought of blogging, though I can never get past a) my own inertia b)
the concern about further clogging up cyberspace. Still, please continue, I love to hear about your thoughts, which are of course as random as
you are (and we love you for it!)

I think that you have a longing to be an art teacher – the cord jacket, the Lamy pen (most disappointed not to hear of a Moleskine sketch pad - tsk tsk!)


Fish and chips, speed dating, hope.
Perm any two from three and you're on a winner.